Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Saving Africa by N Timoleon Amessa

Saving Africa by N Timoleon Amessa
Published in the UK by Matador in June 2017.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Saving Africa investigates the root causes of underdevelopment in developing countries, particularly in post-colonial Africa. It also identifies the factors that inhibit progress: the cultural barriers to development; the political instability and the inappropriate choice of political system that has hampered the development of so many African countries; the economic problems plaguing Africa, especially in the three main sectors of the economy: agriculture, industry, and the service economy. 

It looks at the effect on the social life of African people and cultural factors, such as the difficulty in reconciling traditional customs and practices with the western way of life, and considers how the economy and political systems currently in place add to these problems. 

It also uses the case of Cote D’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) as a prime example, and demonstrates how the legacy of colonial rule, and the scale of corruption among the political elite, coupled with lack of education, poor infrastructure, and rampant inefficiencies that constitute the problematic life in every African country. 

In response to this, it sets out a blueprint, a comprehensive roadmap for evolution. If implemented with commitment it will allow the people of Africa to enjoy the benefits of living in a modern society, with a working economy, a stable political system, and a culture that both preserves the best of its traditions and customs, and takes advantage of the opportunities offered by Western society. 

Saving Africa shows how one can transform the heavy legacy of centuries of colonial rule from a contemporary curse into a real future for Africa and its people.

I was disappointed by this book because, although it starts out with a few interesting-looking ideas, it doesn't really progress from that point. Amessa has strong opinions on the political direction Africa in its entirety should take however actually getting to those root ideas in this book is a slog. The writing is very long-winded. Every opinion is repeated several times and Amessa seems to continually turn in circles so the book is at least twice as long as it feels that it should be! I would have liked facts and statistics to back up the author's statements too. Sweeping untrue generalisations such as there being no African entrepreneurs - I have lent to dozens via Kiva - or that Britain is far more welcoming to immigrants than France - has he read the Daily Mail? - led me to doubt other of Amessa's assertions. I did struggle through pretty much to the end of Saving Africa, but am not convinced that I am much the wiser on this subject as a result.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by N Timolean Amessa / Politics / Books from the Ivory Coast

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The History of Hilary Hambrushina by Marnie Lamb + Excerpt + #Giveaway

The History of Hilary Hambrushina by Marnie Lamb
Published by Iguana Books in May 2017.

Where to buy this book:

Add The History of Hilary Hambrushina to your Goodreads

Hilary has one goal for her first year in junior high: to become popular. But her plans are turned upside down when her best friend leaves for the summer and a quirky girl named Kallie moves in next door. Kallie paints constellations on her ceiling, sleeps in a hammock, and enacts fantastical plays in front of cute boys on the beach. Yet despite Kallie’s lack of interest in being cool, Hilary and Kallie find themselves becoming friends. That summer friendship, however, is put to the test when school begins, reigniting Hilary’s obsession with climbing the social ladder. As Hilary discovers the dark side to popularity, she must decide who she wants to be before she loses everything.


Kallie’s room was the first on the left. Swinging open the door, she spread her arms out and said, “Ta-da!”
Although I was expecting something unusual, I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me. The walls and ceiling were black, and the ceiling had a pattern of white dots and lines that reminded me of the night sky. A huge hammock stretched like a crescent moon between two walls. Some sort of rope-and-wheel apparatus that looked like something we’d built in science class last year was attached to the wall and ceiling above the ends of the hammock. In front of the window was a telescope pointed outside. At
least a hundred stuffed animals sat against the walls, and books and clothes lay scattered on the floor.
“What do you think?” asked Kallie proudly.
I didn’t know what to say. It was the strangest room I’d ever been in, but also the most interesting. I thought of my own room, with the shiny new Damian Sámos poster (the same one as Lynn’s) on one wall and the old wallpaper my dad still hadn’t taken down on the other. The wallpaper had faceless Victorian ladies holding flowered parasols, and I loved it — when I was six. Then there was the squeaky hinge on my closet door (another thing my dad hadn’t fixed). Even my new lavender chenille bedding, which I’d begged my mom to buy, looked so boring compared to Kallie’s room.
Finally I mumbled, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Really? Fantastic! I wanted to make it unique.”
“Is that the night sky?” I asked, looking at the ceiling.
“Yeah. Those are the constellations. Razi and I finished painting them last night.”
I stared at her. “You painted them? You mean it’s not wallpaper?”
“No, but if you thought it was, it must mean we did a good job.”
“You did an amazing job!” I exclaimed. I looked around the room in awe. How could Kallie have painted such a complicated pattern? I couldn’t imagine painting a wall so well, let alone a ceiling.
Kallie was beaming. “Thanks. We did it mostly at night because we could see the sky then. We had a big map to help us during the day, but you can’t really get the feel of the stars without looking at them, you know?”
Actually I didn’t. I’d never thought about that before.
“But the real reason I asked you to come over,” said Kallie, grinning, “was because I was wondering if you wanted to help me paint stuff on the walls.”
For the first time, I noticed that the walls had no patterns on them. “You want me to help paint your room?” I was surprised and kind of honoured. After all, she barely knew me. “O.K.”
“Great! Stay there!” She dashed out. I looked around. That’s when I realized something was missing. When Kallie came back, pushing a wooden cart with jars of paint in dozens of colours, I asked, “Uh … Kallie, where’s the bed?”
“What bed?”
“The bed you sleep on?”
“Who says I sleep on a bed?” She moved some stuffed animals to the hammock.
“Where do you sleep then?”
“In the hammock, of course.”
I was stunned. “You sleep in a hammock? Why?”
“Why not?”
“Well … isn’t it uncomfortable?” I said, starting to feel impatient. Why did she always have to answer my questions with another question?

Meet the Author

A Journey Prize nominee, Marnie Lamb earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in various Canadian literary journals. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, is forthcoming from Iguana Books. When she is not writing fiction or running her freelance editing business, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out colourful fashions at the One of a Kind Show.

Author links:
Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 8th March, the prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Marnie Lamb / Young adult fiction / Books from Canada

Monday, 26 February 2018

A Matter Of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance + Giveaway

A Matter Of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance
(The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance, Book 1) 
Published in America by Golden Bear Creative Works in April 2013.

I read A Matter Of Temperance back in 2014. I am transferring my review over here now to coincide with Ichabod's Spotlight and Giveaway of The Two Faces Of Temperance, the tenth book in this series, which I featured on Literary Flits a couple of weeks ago. Scroll down for a second chance to enter the Giveaway!

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Hello, is anyone there?”
“This is Ichabod Temperance, transmitting from the year 1875.”
“Do you read me?”
“Oh my Goodness! We've got trouble, y'all!”
“Ever since that strange comet passed our world, not only have there been more than just an overwhelming amount of steam and spring inventions popping up all over Earth, but there also have been uncanny monster sightings as well! Well, almost sightings, as these inter-dimensional, over-legged, eyeball-clustered beasties are nearly invisible to the human eye! That is where my own enhanced inventiveness has gotten me into misadventure as I alone have created a device that allows me to see the hippo-sized craw-daddies.”
“Maybe Fate had a hand in my goggle development, for it led to my meeting the most beautiful girl in the world. Now it's up to me and Miss Plumtartt to save our planet from being gobbled up gone!”

Ichabod Temperance undertakes a fantastical adventure when he first rescues one Persephone Plumtartt from clutches of an invisible otherworldly monster. Our hero has a knack for this kind of chivalry as he continues to repeat the feat, firstly across a slightly-geographically-redesigned Europe, and then across the rest of the world. We read his story from two viewpoints, both his and also Miss Plumtartt's. Their characters are not strongly defined so as the chapters rush past, I didn't always know which one was narrating. It doesn't really matter as this book is all about action. Villains are cartoonish and allies are named but not created as defined people. On reflection, this is a little disappointing as I would have invested more in the quest had more words been expended on character rather than fighting. I liked the initial inventions which are perfectly steampunk, however as the book goes along, more and more items are invented but not described so imagining what the author means is tricky. Also the perils are often surprisingly easily despatched and occasionally seem thrown in for no apparent reason - why were the sirens included? Why the pearl?

For me, A Matter of Temperance felt a little unfinished, but it's a good debut. It is a fun fast-paced romp and I went on to enjoy reading more of this series.

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

Open internationally until the 4th March, the prize is one signed paperback copy of The Two Faces Of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance which will be sent directly to the winner by the author himself.
Good luck!

Signed book - The Two Faces of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ichabod Temperance / Steampunk fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 25 February 2018

A Spider Sat Beside Her by K E Lanning + Excerpt + Giveaway

A Spider Sat Beside Her by K E Lanning
Published in America in July 2017.

Its sequel, The Sting of the Bee, is available for pre-order on Amazon and will launch on the 4th April 2018.

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £10.21 (PB)
Wordery : from £8.52 (PB)
Waterstones : from £10.21 (PB)
Amazon : from £3.70 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Add A Spider Sat Beside Her to your Goodreads

A “what if” story set in a world drowned after a catastrophic melting of the ice caps.

Lowry Walker escapes to the stars, taking a graduate position on the new International Space Station. Her dissertation includes gathering Landsat data over Antarctica, now exposed after global warming has melted the ice caps, but her mission is to heal herself after divorcing an abusive husband.

However, the danger is just beginning--a terrorist attack on the space station embroils her into a political nightmare. In a world drowned by rising seas, territorial battles erupt across the globe, with strong governments stealing land from the weak. Canada and America have merged into the United States of Amerada, with a corrupt political ring in control, and who utilize the assault for their own political purposes. And Lowry is the inconvenient witness...

“A captivating web of political and personal intrigue...a futuristic tale for our time." - Sonja Yoerg, author of All the Best People

“The novel’s well-drawn characters, nicely paced plot, and satisfying conclusion will please sci-fi fans of every stripe. A tight, engaging sci-fi tale.” – Kirkus Reviews


Humans measure time by their limited lifespans, but the Earth’s clock ticks at a different pace. Mother Nature may sit for eons—then dance to the tune that physics decrees . . .


Lowry’s lungs burned as she scrambled up the steep slope across broken rocks, pulling her tired horse up behind her. Wind screaming, they cleared the ridge. She scanned the horizon. Nothing moved but the wind. Her tongue chased the rough edges of grit on her teeth, and she spat onto the ground. She took a drink, swallowing the silt left in her mouth.
The view was spectacular—a brilliant sapphire sky dotted with white puffs of drifting clouds. Sunlight spilled across golden mountain peaks against the indigo shadows of the valleys, with a mirror image of this intense beauty reflected in the crystal-clear lake below.
Global warming had melted an ice cap that had been in place for more than ten thousand years, leaving the rich earth exposed once again on the continent of Antarctica. The landscape evoked an odd mix of memories of long hikes of discovery of the land and of herself, and her escape from a mercurial, drunkard father.
A gust whipped Lowry’s hair across her face, stinging her skin. She glanced at the horizon one final time, slowly mounted the mare, and turned her back along the trail. The mare quickened her pace now that they were heading home. They turned the last corner, past a row of tiny windblown evergreens, to where a thin man with auburn hair sat on a rock waiting for her.
Lowry waved happily. “Uncle Nick!” When she reached him, she halted the mare.
Petting the horse, Nick said in a soft Scottish brogue, “I thought you might want a ride to the airport Are you packed?”
A lump came to her throat. “Everything is ready. Except my heart.”
Lowry untacked the mare and let her out into the pasture. They went inside the small stone house tucked into the side of a hill. After Lowry showered, she changed clothes and packed her last items.
Nick grabbed one of her bags and glanced at her. “I see you cut your hair.”
“Yeah, I decided short would be easier on the space station.”
“I won’t be able to pull your braids anymore.”
Lowry grinned and stuck her tongue out at him.
Nick wrapped his arm around her. “With your short hair, you look like your mother when she was your age.”
Lowry smiled. “She was a wonderful human being. I miss her.”
They walked toward the hover, where Lowry hesitated, gazing at the rolling fields of her childhood. She bit her lip, trying to hold back her tears. Nick hugged her to him, and then they walked arm in arm to the hover and loaded her bags.
Hovering through town, Lowry stared out the window at the little school she went to as a child. She tilted her head as they turned down the road toward the airport. “What’s Dad doing today?”
“He’s meeting with some folks from New York.” He shot a glance at her. “I’m sorry he couldn’t be here to see you off.”
“I would have been surprised if he had.” She ran her hand across her brow. “I don’t know if I’m strong enough today to deal with him anyway.”
He parked, and with bags in hand, they walked into the small airport. She checked her luggage, and they strolled toward the security gate. They passed groups of miners and a few families just arriving to Antarctica. She glanced at one young mother looking tired and lost as she tried to keep her brood together. Lowry silently wished them well. It was a tough life, especially for the mothers and their children.
When they reached the security checkpoint, Nick held her by the shoulders, gazing down into her eyes. “Lowry, I’ve always loved you like my own daughter and admired you as a person. You’re a beautiful young woman who takes the bull by the horns despite all odds and wrestles it to the floor. I know you’re hurting and probably a little scared right now, but you’ll do great. Just don’t let the bastards get you down.” He ruffled her hair. “Go get ’em, Tiger!”
The steward announced the boarding call for her flight.
Lowry squeezed her uncle’s arm. “Nick, thanks for being a father to me all these years.”
“My pleasure and honor.” He shrugged. “I’m sorry that my brother doesn’t seem to have the aptitude for fatherhood.”

 “Some people rise to the occasion, some don’t.”

K E Lanning talks about the Sting Of The Bee trilogy:

The Sting of the Bee Trilogy is a set of speculative sci-fi/cli-fi novels exploring a ‘What If’ scenario of a complete melting of the ice caps, caused by climate change. The series explores the impacts of humans on the Earth and the toll of overpopulation, particularly in an era of reduced landmass due to rising seas. However, I was primarily interested in the consequences to human civilization of such a catastrophic event: the subsequent human migrations, societal upheaval, and clash of cultures. And how social chaos enables political corruption.

For dramatic effect, I squeezed the timeframe of the Melt into one human’s lifespan by using a scientific theory that global warming might cause a tipping point, in which there is a sudden shift in the warm and cold ocean currents, and alter climates in specific regions. So I ‘pushed’ the Brazilian warm current past Antarctica to accelerate the pace of melting. With this catalyst, I was able to cause massive sea level rise of approximately 300 feet in a hundred-year timeframe.

The series starts with A Spider Sat Beside Her, published in 2017, and in this novel, I threw my main character, a young geoscientist, Lowry Walker, into the fray of this post-apocalyptic world. Within the political upheavals around the globe, the countries of America and Canada have merged, and are now led by a nefarious administration and one of their goals is to steal indigenous lands to the north. It wasn’t hard to find historical precedents—the opening of the West, and more recently, indigenous tribal protests by the A’wa tribe in Colombia.

After her mother passed away, Lowry lived with her father and uncle in the mining camp on Antarctica, surrounded by nature. After a short but disastrous marriage to an abusive husband, she takes a grad position on the new International Space Station to continue her geoscience studies. I chose to have her circling above the Earth using the ISS as a device so the reader sees a flooded Earth through her eyes. Lowry must confront her difficulty of living inside of an artificial world, and the ISS is a metaphor for the conflict between technology versus humanity; another clash of cultures. Lowry survives a terrorist assault on the ISS, but becomes entangled in a political nightmare—the government of Amerada wants to use the attack for political reasons. And Lowry is the inconvenient witness…

The second novel in the trilogy is The Sting of the Bee, (launching on 4-4-2018). The title is derived from the metaphor of the bee as Mother Earth, and that sea level rise is the resulting sting of human activity. However, the spark of the story was the concept of escape from the chains of society—to itch a scratch deep in their soul, people will leave their homes and risk their lives in a new frontier.
In the story, the newly unveiled continent of Antarctica braces for an invasion of humans hungry for new land. After the murder of his wife, John Barrous escapes the corrupt United States of Amerada, filled with haves and have-nots, to stake a claim on the rich, virgin land of Antarctica. Along with Lowry Walker, now returning to her homeland, John and his fifteen-year-old daughter join a United Nations PR event, an Oklahoma-style land rush. But the event turns into a race against ruthless, armed competitors . . . and a corrupt politician determined to control this new land. Within the epic of settling Antarctica, John and Lowry crisscross in this complex tale of love, destiny and betrayal.

The third novel, Listen to the Birds, follows John Barrous and Lowry Walker as they battle religious cults and political intrigue, while struggling down the difficult path to forgiveness and love. John endures a brutal wilderness trek across Antarctica, and along the way, discovers how to be a true child of Mother Earth and that life is a flow of blood—not time. The novel is underway and is planned to be released in 2019.

Meet the author:
K.E. Lanning is a scientist and writer. Born in Texas in 1957, she grew up near Houston in the small town of Friendswood, laced with white oyster shell roads and open fields dotted with huge live oaks—riding horses rather than bikes. But nearby, NASA’s space program shepherded thoughts of astrophysics into her head.

Lanning received a bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1979 from Stephen F. Austin St. University in Nacogdoches, TX and a MBA in 1986 from the University of Houston. In her geophysics career, science met art—imaging landscapes beneath the surface of the earth. Lanning owned and directed an art gallery in Houston, fascinated with curating thought-provoking shows with new and proven artists.

A life-long fan of science fiction, Lanning has always been intrigued by the multi-dimensions of the genre, allowing the author to explore society, humanity, and our future—bringing the reader along for the ride. To reveal the inner workings of some of the best sci-fi authors in the business, she’s published a series of sci-fi author interviews in OMNI magazine, In the Author’s Universe: Sci-Fi Authors from a Writer’s Point of View, including authors Hugh Howey, Margaret Atwood, Andy Weir and Cixin Liu.

Her first novel is A Spider Sat Beside Her, a work of literary/speculative science fiction, with an eco-fiction emphasis. Two additional novels, The Sting of the Bee (4-4-2018) and Listen to the Birds, will complete the trilogy, though each are standalone works.

Lanning currently lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her family.

Author links: 
Website ~ GoodreadsFacebook ~ Twitter

Enter the Giveaway:

K E Lanning has offered a great prize for this giveaway: one winner will win a Signed Paperback of A Spider Sat Beside Her and a Signed Paperback of The Sting Of The Bee. This giveaway is open worldwide until midnight (UK time) on the 19th of April. Entry is by way of the Gleam widget below:

2x K E Lanning Signed SciFi PBs

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by K E Lanning / Science fiction / Books from America

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Living In The Past by Jane Lovering

Living In The Past by Jane Lovering
Published in the UK by Choc Lit on the 14th February 2018.

Where to buy this book:

Add Living In The Past to your Goodreads

Do you ever wish you could turn back time?
Grace Nicholls has a few reasons for wanting to turn back the clock … although an archaeological dig at a Bronze Age settlement on the Yorkshire moors is not what she had in mind. But encouraged by her best friend Tabitha, that’s exactly where she finds herself. 

Professor Duncan McDonald is the site director and his earnest pursuit of digging up the past makes him appear distant and unreachable. But when a woman on the site goes missing, it seems that his own past might be coming back to haunt him once again. 

As they dig deeper, Duncan and Grace get more than they bargained for – and come to realise that the past is much closer than either of them ever imagined.

Meet the author:
Jane was born in Devon and now lives in Yorkshire. She has five children, four cats and two dogs of variable sanity. She works in a local supermarket and also teaches creative writing. Jane is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has a first-class honours degree in creative writing.

Jane writes comedies which are often described as ‘quirky’. Her debut, Please don’t stop the music, won the 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year and the Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Awards from the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Jane’s novels include: Please don’t stop the music, Star Struck, Hubble Bubble, Vampire State of Mind, Falling Apart, How I Wonder What You Are, I Don’t Want to Talk About It, Can’t Buy Me Love and Little Teashop of Horrors and Living in the Past.

Author links: 
Website ~ GoodreadsFacebook ~ Twitter

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jane Lovering / Women's fiction / Books from England

Friday, 23 February 2018

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt
Published in the UK by Granta in September 2015.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the bucolic hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, he is a compulsive liar and a melancholy weakling. When Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, forbidding castle of the Baron Von Aux he meets thieves, madmen, aristocrats, and a puppy. He also meets Klara, a delicate beauty who is, unfortunately, already involved with an exceptionally handsome partisan soldier. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery and cold-blooded murder in which every aspect of human behaviour is laid bare for our hero to observe. Lucy must stay safe, and protect his puppy, because someone or something is roaming the corridors of the castle late at night. 

Undermajordomo Minor is a triumphant ink-black comedy of manners by the Man Booker shortlisted author of The Sisters Brothers. It is an adventure story, and a mystery, and a searing portrayal of rural Alpine bad behaviour with a brandy tart, but above all it is a love story. And Lucy must be careful, for love is a violent thing.

Dave bought a copy of Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt as we both enjoyed his previous novels, The Sisters Brothers and Ablutions. I got to 'borrow' it through Amazon's Household Sharing setting for Kindle ebooks. All three of DeWitt's novels are very different and Undermajordomo Minor is almost a fairytale in its style. The story centres around teenager Lucien Minor, who is known as Lucy, as he starts in his new job as a man-of-all-work at a distant castle. I am not sure exactly when or where Undermajordomo Minor is meant to be set and it doesn't really matter. Lucy travels by train, but other elements of DeWitt's world could be medieval Grimm. The castle has the same kind of fairytale timelessness. Its weirdness and the proximity of a nearby village frequently reminded me of the wonderful Gormenghast novels although Mervyn Peake wasn't named amongst other authors in an afterword.

There are some intriguing characters in Undermajordomo Minor. Lucy's mother at the beginning of the book is only to pleased to be rid of him and it was refreshing to read a farewell scene without any gushing emotion. Lucy's attempts to impress his ex-flame Marina are fun, and I thought the thief Memel was one of the most interesting creations. The mad Baron is simply bizarre. None of the portrayals I thought were particularly deep, but this is in keeping with the novel's style, and there are some fascinating descriptive passages which really brought scenes to life. I found it easy to envisage scenes such as the train carriage, the castle interiors, the glorious banquet and the Very Deep Hole. I didn't think Undermajordomo was quite in the same league as DeWitt's previous books, but it is still a very enjoyable read.

Etsy Find!
by Olive And Lotte in
Nottingham, England

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

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Books by Patrick deWitt / Fairytales / Books from Canada

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Wife's Tale by Aida Edemariam

The Wife's Tale by Aida Edemariam
Published in the UK by Fourth Estate today, the 22nd February 2018.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Before she was ten years old, Yetemegnu was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over the next century her world changed beyond recognition. She witnessed Fascist invasion and occupation, Allied bombardment and exile from her city, the ascent and fall of Emperor Haile Selassie, revolution and civil war. She endured all these things alongside parenthood, widowhood and the death of children.

The Wife’s Tale is an intimate memoir, both of a life and of a country. In prose steeped in Yetemegnu’s distinctive voice and point of view, Aida Edemariam retells her grandmother’s stories of a childhood surrounded by proud priests and soldiers, of her husband’s imprisonment, of her fight for justice – all of it played out against an ancient cycle of festivals and the rhythms of the seasons. She introduces us to a rich cast of characters – emperors and empresses, scholars and nuns, Marxist revolutionaries and wartime double agents. And through these encounters she takes us deep into the landscape and culture of this many-layered, often mis-characterised country – and the heart of one indomitable woman.

Despite it now being well over thirty years since the infamous Michael Buerk report that showed Ethiopia's terrible famine to the world, those are still the only images that flash into my mind whenever the country is mentioned. There is so much more to Ethiopian culture and history though and I now have a wider appreciation of daily life there through the twentieth century thanks to The Wife's Tale: Aida Edemariam's biography of her grandmother, Yetemegnu.

Yetemegnu lived through ninety-eight years of wonderful and terrible times in Ethiopia. She was married off at just eight years old, making lifelong vows with no real understanding of the words she spoke, to a priest twenty years older than herself. Yetemegnu came of age already isolated in her husband's house. Initially a frightened child, cowed by his jealousy and violence, her early married life seems to have been little more than domestic slavery with only perhaps her religious faith to call her own. Ridiculously long days spent in non-stop cooking, often with her baby strapped to her back, and of not being allowed to leave her house for even a moment. Edemariam tells us of these years through the stories her grandmother told her so there is little critical judgement. It's more an acceptance of tradition with no alternative choice for Yetemegnu, yet I found it interesting that as this young woman begins to become stronger within herself, one of the first actions she struggles for is education for her daughters as well as her sons.

Ethiopia changes almost beyond recognition within the space of Yetemegnu's life and, as readers, we get to see this overwhelming transition through her eyes including her confusion at new practices and her embracing of some new technologies. She becomes a woman to be widely respected and an inspirational example for women everywhere through her perseverance and dignity. I loved recognising many passages in this biography that must have been her own words repeated often to her children and grandchildren. These phrases and mottoes really bring out the truth that this story recounts the life of a real woman, not a fictional invention, and I love that I was able to learn about her through this book.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Aida Edemariam / Biography and memoir / Books from Ethiopia

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A Dip In My Ocean by A G Stranger

A Dip In My Ocean by A G Stranger
Self published in July 2017.

A for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author via the Authors Needing Reviews Goodreads group

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ahmed Ghrib ( Pen name: A.G. Stranger) is a Tunisian engineering student, writer and amateur guitarist. He is the author of " He wrote Lily ". This a collection of his poems that englobe different themes ranging from love, heartbreak to life and healing. Different colorful backgrounds on which the poems were written have been carefully chosen; The powerful sceneries will help you not just "dip" in the writer's "ocean" but rather immerse yourself in the depth his words and their meaning.

A short read at just forty-four pages, A Dip In My Ocean is nonetheless a lovely little book that poetically charts the course of a relationship from deep love to the pain of separation, despair to acceptance and the overcoming of grief. The poems are grouped thematically so the reader can either dip into the appropriate theme as wanted or do as I did and read the whole book effectively as an epic poem telling a story.

As well as Ghrib's words, I liked that this is also an illustrated volume with photographed scenes behind the poetry on every page. These show hand hearts or ocean vistas and feature colour palettes appropriate to the mood of the poetry. It's a lovely idea that I think works well and raises A Dip In My Ocean from poetry to an art-poetry book that might well make a good gift for a friend in need of emotional support at the end of a relationship.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by A G Stranger / Poetry / Books from Tunisia

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Order by John Mayer

The Order (The Parliament House Books #2) by John Mayer
Self published in November 2015.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Order to your Goodreads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brogan McLane QC uncovers the despicable deeds of The Earl of Marchion who owes £7.8m in Death Duties and who thought he could kidnap an 11 year old African girl and use her to smuggle and cheat his way out of paying those taxes. Hiding in his world of privilege, he didn't reckon on the strongest ties of all: the love of a new mother and the legal skills of her husband Brogan McLane in Parliament House.

The story begins in an African forest with a desperate father trying to save his children from being butchered. When faced with no other choice, he sells the children to a diamond smuggler.

Through dark days of prostitution and slavery in Edinburgh one of those children comes under the protective wings of Mr and Mrs McLane. The battle between justice and injustice rages for months until, finally faced with deportation of the child they've come to love, McLane has an idea of how to play a legal Ace card.

I read The Order almost back-to-back after its predecessor, the first Parliament House book The Trial. In their timeline however about two years have passed for Brogan McLane since he managed to overcome a nefarious plot to wrongfully imprison him for murder. Now McLane is called upon to save a little girl, Ababuo, who was trafficked to Scotland with a rare diamond in her stomach before being abandoned.

Dealing as it does with the issue of child trafficking makes The Order a far more emotional read than I thought The Trial was. I believe elements of the novel are based in the sad reality of a case with which Mayer himself was involved - both author and fictional Advocate are specialists in Child Abduction Law. Ababuo herself is sensitively portrayed and I really felt for this child lost thousands of miles from her home and with no one who even knew what her language was, let alone how to communicate in it. A terrifying prospect for anyone.

Much of The Order becomes very personal to McLane and, despite enjoying the story as a whole, I did sometimes wonder if the narrative contortions needed to bring everything so close to home detracted from its plausibility. That said, this is otherwise an engrossing and exciting tale. We again have the juxtaposition of affluent Edinburgh society against McLane's mostly-legal Glasgow cronies, this time with a high-technology flash too. Karla's scenes added a lightness and McLane's legal twisting is again fun to follow.

Meet The Author

John Mayer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, a war-zone where violence and poverty reigned. In 1963 when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, he decided to change his life. Aged 14 he left school because, in his opinion, he wasn't being taught. For the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds and began to understand what more the world had to offer. He became an Apprentice engineer, and soon was teaching men twice his age. In the early 1970s his love of music led him to set up as a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a disheartening court battle with global giants, he left the business world and went back into further education at the University of Edinburgh, becoming an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. There he acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.

John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcast to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, appeared on TV and in print media. Since retiring from the Law, John has enjoyed using his years of very colourful experience to create The Parliament House Books series.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by John Mayer / Crime fiction / Books from Scotland

Monday, 19 February 2018

Necessities by Boyd Taylor + #Giveaway

Necessities by Boyd Taylor (Book #4 in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series)
Book Details:

Category: Adult Fiction, 225 pages
Genre: Suspense Crime Fiction
Publisher: Katherine Brown Press
Release date: December 5, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is a murder and allusions to sex. Some mild cursing.)

Where to buy this book:

Add Necessities to your Goodreads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via iRead Book Tours

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Donnie Ray Cuinn returns to Austin to defend a war hero accused of murder. David Lewis lost both legs in Iraq, but he has overcome his nightmares and his disabilities by sheer willpower. He has learned to run and to box and is a successful newspaperman with a beautiful wife and son. Now the nightmares have returned and he must stand trial for murder. With twists that never seem to end, this gripping legal thriller is filled with suspense and indelibly drawn characters dealing with love and betrayal.

This is the second of Boyd Taylor's Donnie Cuinn crime thrillers that I have read and I think that this fourth book in the series, Necessities, was even stronger than the first book, Hero. I now need to go back and read the intervening two stories as well!

Necessities is split into a book of two halves and I loved Taylor's audacity in scarcely even mentioning Cuinn until the second half of the tale. Instead, we start out by following and really getting to know disabled war veteran David Lewis. A strong and determined man, we still get to see his weaker side and I enjoyed reading about how he finds himself in a seemingly perfect marriage that is perfect to his wife for surprisingly different reasons. Taylor frequently turns established genre conventions on their heads. His characters are completely real and believable, but unexpected within the crime genre and I think this gives an extra lift to the storylines too. If you're trying for a greater number of diverse reads this year, Boyd Taylor books are certainly worth looking in to.

I don't want to say too much about the storyline in this review because I just know I would inadvertently spoil a twist or denouement for someone. Enough to say, I think, that I rarely give crime series novels the full five stars, but Necessities absolutely deserves every single one!

To read further reviews, please visit Boyd Taylor's page on iRead Book Tours.

Watch the book trailer for Necessities (Book #4 in the Donnie Ray Cuinn Series):

Meet the Author:

BOYD TAYLOR lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their Havanese dog Toby. Necessities is the fourth novel in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series. In a former life, Boyd was a lawyer and a corporate officer. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in government and an LL.B. from the law school.

Boyd's first novel "Hero" was prescient in its story about fake news. His second novel, "The Antelope Play," dealt with drug trafficking in the Texas Panhandle, an unfortunately accurate forecast. The third, "The Monkey House", involved commercial development of a large green space in the center of Austin, all too familiar to Austin residents. Whether his upcoming novel "Necessities" predicts future events with the accuracy of the earlier books remains to be seen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 7, 2018

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Boyd Taylor / Thrillers / Books from America

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Breathe Breathe by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Breathe Breathe by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Published in America by Unnerving in October 2017.

B for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author via the Authors Needing Reviews Goodreads Group

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It's a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.

In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.

In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.

In the short stories, you'll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can't find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.

Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.

Breathe Breathe isn't a particularly long book - it's only about 175 pages - and I sat down expecting to read it within a few hours. However it actually took me over a week of dipping into the poems and stories in order to be able to finish it. Don't be mistaken in thinking I didn't enjoy the read. I did! (Although perhaps 'enjoy' isn't the best word to choose.) I found the intense emotion difficult to sustain so, instead of my usual cover-to-cover devouring, Breathe Breathe has been a process of reading one or two poems or stories and then taking time to think them over before returning. It's rare that a collection of short works gets through to me so deeply. All praise to Al-Mehairi for revealing so much of her literary vulnerability in this way.

As with any collection of course, there were pieces that I connected with more strongly than others so I am going to pick out a few of my favourites to mention here. If (when!) you buy this book, be sure to linger over the Fear poems The Heirloom and Earl Grey Tea, and the Pain poem Nature's Salve. I loved the imagery and sense of menace in these. As a woman, I found the short stories to be essentially horror tales. Occasional clunky dialogue aside, I loved their chilling atmospheres and Dandelion Yellow especially is excellent - and heart-breaking.

Breathe Breathe should probably come with a series of trigger warnings. Many of the poems and stories speak of gender violence and abusive relationships and Al-Mehairi isn't coy with her phrases. Sensitive and still-damaged souls should perhaps get a friend to read this through first. Personally I found the read disturbing and powerful and memorable.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Poetry / Books from America

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Betrayal by Anne Allen + Giveaway

The Betrayal by Anne Allen
First published in the UK by Sarnia Press in October 2017.

For this week only, until 18th February, the price of books 2-6 of The Guernsey Novels is only £1.99/$2.99, with book 1, 'Dangerous Waters, remaining at 99p/99c

This is in celebration of Anne Allen's birthday, the 6th anniversary of the publication of 'Dangerous Waters' and the recent publication of book 6, 'The Betrayal'.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Betrayal to your Goodreads

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return. 

1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the true owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother's ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

Meet the author:
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018. ​

Author links: 
Website ~ GoodreadsFacebook ~ Twitter

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

Open Internationally until the 21st February, the prize is a signed paperback copy of The Betrayal by Anne Allen.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Anne Allen / Mystery fiction / Books from England

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Poison Of Woedenwoud by K Ferrin + Giveaway

The Poison Of Woedenwoud by K Ferrin
Published in America on the 12th February 2018.

Where to buy this book:

Add The Poison Of Woedenwoud to your Goodreads

Magic is draining from the world threatening everything, the tatters of her own family, the warlocks, and the Mari alike. Ling and her companions search desperately for the key to ending it all, but warlocks dog their every step. Meanwhile, Ling, isolated and afraid, struggles against a rising tide of darkness far more threatening than anything in the Darkling Sea.

Meet the Author
K. Ferrin spends her days surrounded by engineers, technology, and humming machinery, but her evenings are steeped in magic, myth, and adventure. She writes fantasy, loves gardening, and eats way too much pie. She lives at the foot of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two pooches.

Her novels include the stand alone YA fantasy novel Magicless, as well as Across the Darkling Sea, and A Dying Land, the first two books of a series.

Author links:
WebsiteTwitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

And now for the giveaway!
Open internationally until the 22nd February, the prizes are two $25 Amazon gift cards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by K Ferrin / Fantasy fiction / Books from America